HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, is taking precautionary measures to protect its workforce and do its part to slow the spread of COVID-19, the organization remains fully operational.
Even programs that generally require intensive on-site visits are finding innovative solutions to maintain the high level of quality expected of Huntsville Center. One example is the Facilities Reduction Program (FRP), which provides contracting services and oversight of projects to eliminate excess facilities and structures at installations across the country, ultimately leading to a reduction in fixed installation costs and an increase in energy savings.
Typically, this type of job requires two on-site visits: a site-scoping visit for Huntsville Center engineers to visually assess the site and develop a plan that addresses the customer’s requirements and any potential safety or environmental concerns, and a pre-proposal visit with potential offerers for contractors to get a clear understanding of the work to be performed.
However, the rapid spread of COVID-19 and resulting travel restrictions have required Huntsville Center employees to conduct these site visits virtually. According to FRP Program Manager Michelle Clark, these virtual visits have been a huge success, allowing the program to continue accomplishing the mission while protecting its workforce.
“Eliminating these on-site visits altogether would jeopardize the quality of the work and put the contractors at a greater risk, so we are doing them virtually, and so far, it’s going very well,” said Clark.
In order to obtain the necessary information for designing a plan for demolition or deconstruction, the Facilities Reduction Program team has been working with the installation’s Quality Assurance specialists to take pictures and videos of the site, as well as using online meeting platforms such as WebEx to get feedback in real time.
FRP project managers are also facilitating the information and question-answer portions of the pre-proposal site visits with contractors virtually. Installation personnel take the contractors on a virtual tour of the facilities and identify any items of concern that would require additional discussion prior to awarding the contract.
“It has really come down to an increased focus on communication and collaboration. This has allowed us to keep doing what we’ve always done and maintaining that high level of quality,” said Clark.
The Facilities Reduction Program worked 16 new projects this fiscal year, 12 of which have year-end requirements. Of those, five were started pre-pandemic. The remaining seven--including demolitions in Southern California, Hawaii and Jackson, Miss.—have already involved or will involve virtual site-scoping visits.
“Our entire team knows how important it is for our stakeholders and the public to keep work on schedule despite the national emergency. We are committed to that mission, and we are able to accomplish that while also understanding that public safety is our number one priority,” said Clark.
For more information about Huntsville Center's Facilities Reduction Program, click here.